Kupchick, animal welfare advocates push legislature to establish standards for dog shelters

State Representative Brenda Kupchick (R-132) is advocating for legislation this session that would set in statute language determining what constitutes adequate shelter for dogs in adverse weather conditions. The proposal, HB 5355, would add specific adequate shelter language to a law passed by the Connecticut legislature previously that includes guidelines regarding tethering dogs and is one of several animal welfare bills she called for in a February press conference.

Rep. Kupchick is promoting this legislation with increased urgency this year in the wake of an alarming number of news reports in the past year describing scenes where dogs have suffered and died from heat stroke or hypothermia because they were left outside either without shelter or in dilapidated wooden or plastic doghouses. She testified in support of HB 5355 in an Environment Committee public hearing.

“For years, animal welfare proponents and legislators fiercely advocated for language that would protect defenseless dogs from a life of inhumane treatment by irresponsible and uncaring pet owners and in many incidents, from a slow painful death,” said Rep. Kupchick. “Legislators, along with animal control officers and members the Task Force to Study the Humane Treatment of Animals, have discussed this issue at length and believe the revised language we submitted addresses this concern.”

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) announced their support of the adequate shelter language in HB 5355.

“The ASPCA is proud to support HB 5355, legislation that will help ensure that dogs are adequately sheltered from frigid winters and sweltering summers,” said Debora Bresch, Senior State Legislative Director, Upper Atlantic Region, for the ASPCA. “We thank Rep. Kupchick for leading this effort to protect dogs from needless suffering and align Connecticut’s law on this important issue with the public’s expectations for protecting animals from cruelty.”

“The focus has never been on residents who have sporting or working dogs who we know invest a significant amount of money and time training their dogs and value them, providing these animals adequate shelter,” Rep. Kupchick added. “This bill will give Animal Control Officers the tools they have been requesting for many years to protect dogs from irresponsible owners. We are simply advocating to protect dogs from being harmed by irresponsible dog owners.”

The bill has received significant bipartisan support from animal welfare advocates in the legislature, including State Representative Diana Urban (D-43), who said, ““In light of what we faced this winter with tragedy the result of dogs left out in inadequate shelter it is past time that we address this. Giving ACO’s adequate tools to work with, is not only logical but it also recognizes the incredibly important role our ACO’s play in protecting animals.”

Also encouraging the legislature to adopt this statute in addition to the ASPCA are two key advocacy groups, the Humane Society of the United States and CT Votes for Animals.

“The vagueness of our current law makes it difficult for law enforcement officers who want to take action before a dog has suffered injury or death due to inadequate shelter,” says Annie Hornish, State Director for The Humane Society of the United States.

“CT Votes for Animals is working hard to make sure this bill passes. It will give animal control officers a powerful tool to intervene in situations where dogs are in danger and prevent the type suffering we have seen too many times in our communities,” said Jennifer Wynn, the President of CT Votes for Animals.”

HB 5355 passed through the Environment Committee and awaits action in the Connecticut House of Representatives.

State Representative Brenda Kupchick represents the 132nd district, which includes Fairfield and Southport. She is the Ranking Member of the General Assembly’s Housing Committee and a member of the Finance, Revenue, and Bonding Committee and the General Law Committee.

State Representative Brenda Kupchick (R-132)

State Representative Brenda Kupchick (R-132)

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